Tales of a Rat-Hunting Man

Alas, we cannot all have the opportunity to bag innumerable elephants, pandas, platypodes, blue whales, etc – though I am sure we have all read all Teddy Roosevelt’s hunting books, etc but, here is an interesting book about a chap who satisfied his venality with the pursuit of rats, ‘Tales of a Rat-Hunting Man’ by Brian Plummer (He wrote many other fascinating books too, and was, like me a devotee of the Jack Russell terrier. Well done, Brian: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_Plummer)

PS: ‘platypodes’ really is the plural of  ‘platypus’.

This fascinating adventure story contains many riveting accounts of his pursuit of the wily rodent through the maggot factories and rubbish tips of England. Why he even (once) pursued his prey through the decomposing body of a circus elephant, which recalls my own adventures hunting foxes out of the carcass of a large beached whale on Anderson’s Inlet many years ago!

I note Roald Dahl ‘stole’ one of his excellent (Claud) bar stories about rat hunting from Brian. (http://www.roalddahlfans.com/shortstories/ratc.php) Lo, how the mighty are fallen!

Here is a review of this excellent tome: ‘After the initial shock of even considering a rat-catching professional, the title and content of this book are intriguing. The rat is “the unheralded game-animal of Great Britain,” so much so that its proponents are feared and reviled as not quite “right.” But from the time D. Brian Plummer received his first rat terrier at the age of 10, he dedicated himself to the sport of rat-catching using either dogs or ferrets. He actually enjoys killing rats and is pleased to share his techniques. Thank goodness for Plummer’s wit and charm, which make the experience of reading about such nasty creatures a delight.’

It is available here: http://www.amazon.com/Tales-Hunting-David-Brian-Plummer/dp/1906486271

Here’s Roald’s version: ‘he tries to make amends with the men by showing them some rat tricks. He pulls a rat out of his pockets (“Always got a rat or two about me somewhere.”) and drops it down the neck of his shirt. Then he drops in a ferret he pulled out of another pocket. A frantic chase and fight ensue in the shirt, and eventually the ratcatcher pulls out the dead rat and the bloody ferret. After that performance, he claims he can do something even more amazing: he can kill a rat himself without using his hands or arms or legs or feet. He gets Claud to bet him a shilling that he can’t. He produces another live rat and they tie it to a car antenna. The ratcatcher begins to stare at the rat, moving closer and closer, until finally he strikes like a snake with his mouth open and his yellow teeth biting. The narrator closes his eyes, and when he opens them the ratcatcher is collecting his money and spitting out blood.’

I do like that line, ‘Always got a rat or two about me somewhere’. I want it for my very own! I remember when I was a child most times having a ferret or a sugar glider about my person (eg inside my shirt) too. This is a sadly neglected foible nowadays. Having since read a number of Brian’s excellent books, I now too want a ‘Plummer Terrier, the breed he developed out of Jack Russells and sundry other small hunting breeds. I may have to content myself with Spot & Honey.

For those who delight in a ‘spot’ of venality here is a film of the Severn Valley ‘Ratters’ doing what they love best:

Here is an even longer hunt (425 rats killed – that’s pretty good going):

‘Venery’. It is such a lovely word. It is a short hop really from a ‘mouse’ to a ‘moose’ which perhaps explains my predilection for these critters as for example evidenced in this post: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/eddie-herrick-moose-hunting-at-dusky-sound/

– or this: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-lure-of-the-moose/ I only wish my Jack Russells could accompany me to Fiordland.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *